The hips are a problematic area amongst lifters and athletes of all levels. Whether it be tightness of the hip flexors and hamstrings or unilateral instability for example, correcting issues around the hip joint should be seen as a priority for strength and conditioning professionals. If left undiagnosed and untreated, these issues may develop into injuries about the ankle, knee, hip and lower back.
Reducing the risk of injury is right at the top of our to-do list, but lets not forget about performance.
Lack of flexibility and stability at the hip joint can also contribute to inefficient movement patterns, a prime example being forceful hip extension; a movement that is essential for performance across all sports performed with high force and velocity.
With the help of my NOT so beautiful assistant, here is a superset that I like to use, here at Cheshire Barbell, to help fix such faults. The two exercises demonstrated in the video target both the anterior and posterior chain through both unilateral and bilateral movement.
Anterior Loaded Rear Foot Elevated (RFE) Split Squat
Performed the same way as the traditional RFE Split Squat, however this variation involves placing the bar in the rack position.
I find that this not only helps the athlete maintain an upright torso, but is great for developing the rack position for the clean & jerk.
Key coaching points:
With a slightly wider than shoulder width grip, have the athlete rest the bar across his/her anterior deltoids whilst maintaining high elbows.
The athletes rear foot should be resting on a bench or box behind them with the majority of their weight distributed through the heel of the front foot.
They should descend by flexing the hip and knee joint of the front leg simultaneously whilst aiming to keep their trunk vertical.
The aim is to descend so that the center of the hip joint passes below that of the knee, as they would during a front squat.
With the rear leg elevated behind them, they should experience a strong stretching sensation throughout the hip flexor and quadricep complex before returning to the start position by extending the hip and knee joint forcefully.
This is a hip dominant movement that is great for developing the posterior chain. This can be a useful assistance exercise for those that struggle to maintain an upright trunk during movements such as the back squat.
Key coaching points:
With a grip that is as narrow as comfortably possible, the athlete should rest the bar on the shelf (spine of scapulae) that is created by retracting the scapulae.
In order to keep the bar in place and increase the involvement of the posterior chain, the athlete should forcefully pull the bar downward into the shoulders and continue to do so throughout the entire set.
With the legs fairly straight but knees "soft" (not locked-out), he/she should then break at the hip joint by pushing their butt rearward.
This rearward movement of the hips will transfer their weight onto their heels.
The movement stops once the hamstrings reach their maximum length. Any further and the athlete will be forced to round their back which should be avoided at all costs.
They then return to the start position by contracting the glutes, thus extending the hips forcefully.
Maintaining a good rack position in the first exercise, and a strong flat back in the second, is by no means easy. I have found that individuals tend to let these positions slip before their legs reach muscular failure, therefore I like to keep the volume low and instead keep the intensity high.
In this video, I have asked Nathan to demonstrate 8 reps of each exercise, however I find performing sets of 3-5 reps works well so long as their is enough weight on the bar.
Author: Karl Page